Thursday, January 6, 2011

Healing Words

The Lessons of the Falling Leaves...

The leaves believe such letting go is love
Such love is faith
Such faith is grace
Such grace is God
I agree with the Leaves
-Lucille Clifton

I love this poem. It is a poem about healing, for me it reminds me that letting go is an act of love rather than hurtful. Often when I sit down to write I am bogged down by the intensity of the work I do. I wish I were able to set aside my memories and experiences completely at moments. I love what I do and I do not have bad memories, but it is an intense line of work. So tonight after a hectic day at work, healing keeps coming to my heart.

Lucille Clifton's poetry often addresses the beauty and pain of real life. I decided to read a bit about her poetry concerning abortion. She has a unique story concerning abortion. In the poem "the lost baby" Clifton expresses a since of ambivalence and sadness about a terminated pregnancy and alludes to financial strains. I believe this poem is beautiful, not because all women *should* experience sadness after an abortion, but because some women do experience some kind of sadness just like some women experience relief and joy.

I have spoken to a few women in both my professional and personal life who experience regret in some form after an abortion. I believe that just like any difficult and life altering decision abortion can be intense and hard.I wish that rather than offering judgment we could find ways to help women heal. No one wants to face an unintended pregnancy, no one.

Lucille Clifton wrote another poem about abortion called "donor". I was unable to find the poem online but from what I have read she attempted to self abort unsuccessfully and 30 years later her daughter donated a kidney to her. This story would probably make an anti-abortion radical hyperventilate with excitement. Based on Clifton's experience I wonder what about her opinions on keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible. I have no idea if Clifton is pro-choice, but for me what is revolutionary about this poetry is her willingness to make herself vulnerable by sharing her experience of abortion access and choice.

I dream of abortion provision that allows women to express their feelings without the expectation that they should feel any one way. Last week, a woman stated that she felt many of the women in the clinic were taking the procedure "too lightly." I explained to her that each person who walks in the clinic had different life experiences and circumstances and each person will respond to their choice differently. I further explained there is not one way someone should feel or act through their abortion appointments.

*It is hard to write about regret and sadness and abortion. I fear some crazy person on the internet will skew my words. This blog is a place to address all aspects of abortion both as providers and as women.


  1. I heard something about this before, I thought she had a son and not a daughter?
    Anyways, I did some searching and found the poem:

    to lex
    when they tell me that my body
    might reject
    i think of thirty years ago
    and the hangers i shoved inside
    hard trying not to have you.

    i think of the pills, the everything
    i gathered against your
    inconvenient bulge; and you
    my stubborn baby child,
    hunched there in the dark
    refusing my refusal.

    suppose my body does say no
    to yours. again, again i feel you
    buckled in despite me, lex,
    fastened to life like the frown
    on an angel's brow.

  2. not to mention that a lot of people (including myself) deal with pain by using humor and light-hearted subjects as distractions

  3. Holy shit, Steph, that poem. It knocked me off my feet (figurative feet). Thank you so much for finding & sharing it.


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